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a treat, courtesy of my neighbours; I went sailing at Morston yesterday with them, in their Cockle, a fibreglass version of a traditional small sailing boat with a shallow draught and centre board, perfect for estuary sailing.

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it was a cloudy day, huge cumulus piled up overhead, and the wind was unreliable. we sailed out past all the moored boats. I remember sailing here twenty seven years or so ago, and there was nothing like the number of boats – a huge empty lagoon in those days, with the odd fishing boat moored, and the mussel beds not even marked.

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these days there are serried ranks of Cockles, and Oysters, their bigger sisters, moored all along the creek. we shared the water with the very first Cockle, number nought.

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they are real Swallows and Amazons style boats, with the rust coloured sails and lug-sail rig. we were going out against the incoming tide, with the wind behind us, and the water was quite choppy.

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plenty of other people going out for a couple of hours at the point. some dogs have no problem with boats, but my neighbours’ two spaniels can’t bear it, much too insecure a feeling.

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amongst the more glamorous boats moored out there is this cabin sailing boat.

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and here is an Oyster under full sail.

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this is the nearest we got to the famous seals; there is a huge colony here, of both common and grey seals.

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we landed a little further in on the landward side of the spit, for a picnic.

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unfortunately this was a very busy day for seal trips and trippers were being landed by the boat-full for their hour on the point right next to where we had anchored the boat. it was a little like Oxford Circus.

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our other neighbours from across the road turned up in their Oyster, minus the jib (Alan had left it at home by mistake).

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this beautiful old lifeboat house is a little further along from our landing point; to my surprise it has ladies and gents facilities. there are several huts dotted about in the low grassy dunes, probably used by researchers and volunteer workers.

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the tide turned and we had to leave, after the seal ferries had retrieved all their customers. Heron was becalmed for a while as we ran out of wind; Chris just started up the outboard (Alan’s was put away in a locker).

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the wind was very off and on going back, and the sea smooth, as wind and tide were in agreement. but fishing boats on their way back in raised some big wakes and we bobbed up and down crazily a few times.

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local fishermen have to be very careful of the seals which are protected, and can get caught in nets and gear, and chew up the fish.

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this is Harvester, a lovely old wooden crab fishing boat, built at Sheringham, up the coast.

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I had to chuckle at this one’s name, Auntie Pam.